Britain hits out at Brussels with 'strong objections' over Galileo satellite exclusion
The UK has reportedly made clear its ‘strong objection’ to being shut out of the Galileo satellite programme after Brexit, as fresh splits emerge in the EU over the move.
British officials have written to Brussels claiming that excluding the UK would go against the phase-one withdrawal deal agreed by both sides in December.
They add the move would cost the bloc an extra €1bn (£876m) without their continuing involvement, with the Government ready to recoup costs invested in the programme so far.
In a letter, they say wider post-Brexit security co-operation would be compromised were Britain denied access to the Public Regulated Service (PRS) – a crucial navigation and timing signal used by government and military users – after March 2019.
A document seen by the BBC and handed to EU officials during Brexit talks this week says that excluding British industry in security-related areas also risks delays of up to three years.
"It will not be straightforward to effectively fulfil all Galileo security work elsewhere," it says.
"The UK therefore has a strong objection to its ongoing exclusion from security-related discussions and exchanges pertaining to the post-2019 development of Galileo and the PRS, which serves to limit UK assurance in the programme and discourage UK industrial participation.
"Current EU restrictions on UK participation will have implications for the ceiling placed on future UK-EU security cooperation."
Elsewhere The Times reports that the decision has sparked division in Brussels – with France, backed by Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Baltic states at odds with a German-backed bid to limit the UK’s involvement.
The EU has so far argued that Britain cannot immediately have access to the programme because the PRS is for EU member states only.
However French officials are said to be concerned that the group, led by Martin Selmayr, the commission’s most top civil servant, are exceeding their remit.
“It is not acceptable that security is sacrificed to a clique that wants to use Brexit as what they call a ‘pedagogical exercise’ in showing the benefits of EU membership and the cost of leaving,” a European diplomat told the paper.
“Germany particularly is taken with this idea. Other countries with greater security interests, like France or Spain, are more pragmatic.”